The Spider #1
cover by Francesco
Francavilla.David Liss has a, well, "history" of exploring different eras in his work — from the various periods covered in his historical fiction novels like The Whiskey Rebels, which took place in the late 18th century, or exploring the modern day Marvel Universe during his stint writing Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive.
For his latest comic book project, The Spider at Dynamite, he's returning to a similar pulp sensibility as 2011's Marvel miniseries Mystery Men. Except this time around, he's bringing The Spider — first introduced in the pulp magazines of the 1930s — to a contemporary setting.
Newsarama talked with Liss via email about the series, what makes The Spider unique among his pulp fiction brethren, and working with series artist Colton Worley.The Spider #1
cover by John
Cassaday.Newsarama: David, when The Spider series was originally announced, I think a lot of people didn't necessarily know much about the character, if they had heard of him at all. How familiar were you with The Spider before starting writing this series? David Liss: I’d read some of the pulps years before, so I was familiar with the character, and certainly familiar enough to jump at the chance to write him. But your point is well-taken. I think The Spider is hugely influential and has shaped a lot of what we consider standard elements of comic book heroes and villains, but the character's influence has held up better than the character itself. I’m very excited to have the chance to reintroduce readers to a very cool hero who they ought to know if they don’t already. The Spider #1
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Ross.Nrama: There are a lot of pulp-era heroes — Dynamite publishes quite a few of them — so in your estimation, what makes The Spider unique, and worth revisiting today? It seems that he's much more aggressive than some of his counterparts, kind of a pulp version of The Punisher, broadly speaking.
Liss: The Spider is certainly as ruthless as The Punisher, and has no problem putting a bullet in a bad guy if he’s got it coming, but The Punisher is also emotionally blunt and isolated. The Spider, on the other hand, along with his alter ego, Richard Wentworth, has not closed himself off to emotion. There’s a woman he loves and he has friends he cares about. The life he leads has a cost, and he’s not exactly happy, but he is very human. Ultimately, I think that is what makes him unique — his ability to be moral, ruthless and social all at the same time.The Spider #1
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Lesser.Nrama: Like any character as old as The Spider, there has been many interpretations in many different forms of media; novels, comic books, movie serials — is any one era or representation especially influential to you in the writing of the series?
Liss: When working out my approach to this series, I stuck with the pulps. My goal was always to take what I thought were the essential elements of The Spider and his world and update them for a modern audience. There have been other efforts to update The Spider, and some of them have been very cool — especially Timothy Truman’s comics, but they were also a unique interpretation, and we didn’t want to build on that vision so much as create our own interpretation.Interior art from The Spider #1. Nrama: Last year at Marvel, you wrote the pulp-era miniseries Mystery Men. Do you view that as thematically similar at all to what you're doing here? Liss: Like Mystery Men, The Spider has one foot planted squarely in the pulp sensibility, but that project was a period piece set firmly in the 1930s, whereas ours is a pulp character reintroduced into the 21st century. I would say both are stories that are constructed out of pulp building blocks but are much more character based than many of the pulps were. Nrama: What's the planned length of your story? Not sure if it's a miniseries or ongoing. Liss: I’ve done a five-issue arc and a stand-alone. I’d love to do more, so hopefully people will buy this book and support the project. Interior art from
The Spider #1.Nrama: The images released thus far by interior artist Colton Worley have been striking. What's it been like working with him on this project?
Liss: Colton’s art speaks for itself. His work on this has been amazing, and I’ve been thrilled to have him as the artist. He’s also an incredibly easy creative partner to work with. He’s very open and flexible and does a great job of bringing the scripts to life. But more importantly, he infuses everything with his own super-cool moody style, which is somehow both realistic and fantastical. It’s great stuff, and I love working with an artist like Colton because I know anyone flipping through one of the issues is going to want to buy it because it looks so damn good.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!